Denison farmer tackles Ninja Warrior

WHAT began as something of a joke has culminated in Denison farmer Brad Vanderland trying his luck on the Channel 9 reality television show Australian Ninja Warrior.

The 35-year-old said the inspiration for applying came after he had watched the show for a couple of years, as well as some pressure from his friends and family.

"It just started as an idea .. I needed another goal and that became it," he said.

"I thought 'oh yeah, I could give that a crack', and they [friends and family] all said 'well why don't you give it a try?'."

The process for applying was relatively straightforward, with Mr Vanderland filling in an online questionnaire before having a phone interview and undergoing a fitness test.

With three months between rehearsal and performance, Mr Vanderland said it was a matter of getting himself ready physically to complete the gruelling course.

"I was pretty fit, but not the type of fitness I needed to be, so I had to do a bit of training and go from there," he said.

"I'd never stepped foot in a gym before, but had done manual work my whole life, so I thought that was my advantage."

The aim of the show is to complete the course in the quickest time possible, without falling off any obstacle and into the water below.

Mr Vanderland said part of the trickery of the show was the fact contestants didn't get any practice turns at the course.

"They run you through each obstacle, you sit in the grandstand, they take all your phones off you, and they have one of their own crew do each obstacle once," he said.

"I talked myself into the fact that I could do the course, as I didn't smoke for three months, ate really well and felt there was no real reason why I couldn't."

After being called up to face the music on stage last Tuesday night, Mr Vanderland said his tactic revolved around speed, in what he said was an incredibly daunting experience given every pair

of eyes in the crowd were glued to him.

"Just by watching it on TV the previous year my strategy was to just go fast, because I figured most of it needed upper body strength, so I just focused on that - that's what I trained for - chest, core and arms," he said.

"My aim was to just to go fast and not waste too much energy hanging off things.

"The most challenging part for me was my nerves, I was shaking, I just could not stop shaking up on the stage. You've got the crowd there, cameras and the lights - it's terrifying."

Despite the butterflies, Mr Vanderland had a fair return during the premiere episode, although he admitted some of the people he was up against were on another level.

"They were way in front of me fitness wise and most of them were people who had been on courses before," he said.

"A lot of them were rock climbers, and most of them specialized in an athletic sport, so I was quite out of my league."

The competition to find Australia's first ninja warrior will continue into the coming weeks, with everyday people battling it out for the $300,000 first prize.

Mr Vanderland encouraged others thinking of joining the show in future seasons to give it a go.

"The whole course is doable, but the fact that you only get one go - the nerves and people yelling and screaming - all adds up," he said.

"But it was so much fun, it's an experience I'll never forget, and you get to meet a lot of people.

"Being a cricket fan, I was excited to meet Freddie Flintoff (a commentator on the show).

"He is a champion. He's a big boy; he came over and had a chat and gave us a few tips, and I got to shake hands with him as well."

Australian Ninja Warrior continues tonight on Channel 9 from 7.30pm.

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